‘This Is Us’ Narrowly Avoided a Lawsuit After the Traumatic Crock-Pot Incident of 2018

More than three years later, fans of This Is Us are still grieving the loss of everyone’s favorite fictional dad, Jack Pearson (Milo Ventimiglia). The event had dozens of theories leading up to the episode. Once it aired, no one was prepared for what unfolded. We have two words: Crock-Pot. Here’s how the company bounced back with the help of This Is Us without taking creators to court.

Jack Pearson’s death on ‘This Is Us’ still haunts viewers

Mandy Moore as Rebecca, Milo Ventimiglia as Jack look loving at one another while standing in the kitchen.
Mandy Moore as Rebecca, Milo Ventimiglia as Jack | Ron Batzdorff/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

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In January 2018, This Is Us fans finally got the answers teased from the show’s early episodes. Jack Pearson has technically been gone throughout the whole series. But, seeing how his death transpired was another level of pain we didn’t see coming (and aren’t healed from).

The house Jack and wife Rebecca (Mandy Moore) raised The Big Three (Kate, Kevin, and Randall) caught fire thanks to a faulty switch on a slow-cooker. It was gifted by the couple’s neighbor, George. He did warn them the switch had issues but didn’t make as big of a deal as he should have.

After the Super Bowl, Jack let “Bec” go to bed while he cleaned up the kitchen. He did, in fact, turn the slow-cooker off. But, the final scenes of that episode revealed the switch turned itself on after Jack went up to bed. As many know, a fire began and spread quickly through the house. And, because of an earlier reference where the smoke alarm needed new batteries (that they forgot to buy), it seemed Jack would meet his fate in this fire.

However, as This Is Us writers often torture our emotions, the fire was only a piece of the story. When all seemed well with the family safe, Jack died in the hospital due to tachycardia. It was diagnosed in his younger years, but he kept it to himself. The moment Rebecca entered the room, she found Jack lying there.

Creator Dan Fogelman received a lot of comments from heartbroken fans after the episode aired. It’s Crock-Pot’s response that changed the trajectory of This Is Us, slow-cookers, and life for the Pearsons after Jack Pearson’s death.

Crock-Pot responded to heartbroken fans after the episode aired

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Immediately following the episode about Jack’s death, fans flocked to social media to denounce use of all Crock-Pots forevermore.

“Jack Pearson was our Valentine so we equally understand your pain with his loss. We love him and we love you too. Don’t further add to our heartbreak by no longer using Crock-Pot Slow Cookers, rest assured our products have been generationally tested by your family and friends,” they wrote as a response. “We’re heartbroken over last night’s episode too!… [W]e’re innocent until proven guilty.”

Fogelman took to Twitter to respond to the many fans who swore of Crock-Pots for good.

“Taking a moment to remind everyone that it was a 20-year-old fictional crockpot with an already funky switch? Let’s not just lump all those lovely hardworking crockpots together. #ThisIsUs,” he wrote on Twitter at the time.

The Crock-Pot team later wrote a lengthy response

As Fogelman tweeted, the PR team for Crock-Pot scrambled to create a longer response.

“Crock-Pot understands the concerns brought up by last night’s episode of This Is Us, and we too are heartbroken by the latest development in Jack’s storyline. However, it is important that our consumers understand and have confidence that all Crock-Pot slow cookers exceed all internal testing protocols and all applicable industry safety standards and regulations as verified by independent third-party testing labs. For nearly 50 years, with over 100 million Crock-Pots sold, we have never received any consumer complaints similar to the fictional events portrayed in last night’s episode. In fact, the safety and design of our product renders this type of event nearly impossible.

“In addition, and most relevant to the concerns consumers are having after watching the recent This Is Us episode, our Crock-Pot slow cookers are low current, low wattage (typically no more than 200 or 300 watts) appliances with self-regulating, heating elements. The product is designed to cook foods over a longer period of time at low temperatures and the switches connect to only 1 side of the power line voltage, so there is never a high voltage applied directly across our switches. The switches within our slow cookers are subjected to additional internal testing, which includes a Rotary Knob Endurance test, Rotary Knob Force Test and Flame Burning Test and constructed of self-extinguishing, flame resistant material.

“Our hope is that the team at NBC’s This Is Us will help us spread factual information regarding our product’s safety. While we know their primary mission is to entertain — something they have continued to excel in — we also feel they have a responsibility to inform. Just like many fans, we will be watching next week’s episode to see how Jack’s story progresses and, regardless of the outcome, we want consumers first and foremost to know they are safe when using their Crock-Pot.”

Entertainment Weekly

The Crock-Pot brand clearly wasn’t messing around once reactions poured in. Could they have sued the show, and if not, have their sales decreased or improved since the episodes aired?

‘This Is Us’ avoided lawsuit, boosted Crock-Pot sales with a little help from the show

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Despite the media frenzy, Ad Age reported Crock-Pot sales increased more than $300,000 one month after the episode.

According to Mark Renshaw at the Ad Age Survival Summit (per Market Watch), the brand’s team at Edelman considered suing This Is Us, NBC. An NBC News analyst for the network later explained that a lawsuit, in this case, would prove difficult. That’s because “the award-winning drama probably didn’t intend to disparage them and Crock-Pot would have to prove financial loss.”

He also noted that, “it’s not impossible that an electrical appliance like this could short circuit if, for example, it has frayed wires.”

Instead of going that route, Crock-Pot created a Twitter account to re-iterate the safety of their products. That, plus the Ventimiglia-led ad explaining Crock-Pot safety helped bring sales back up and viewers comfortable around their slow-cookers.

“Sales actually rebounded. Not only did we restore the brand and restore the reputation and trust, but we got, actually, a sales lift out of it,” Renshaw said at the Ad Age summit.

It’s hard to say how many This Is Us fans still avoid their slow-cookers. If Jack Pearson has a say, you’d better believe he’d want Rebecca to continue using hers to make that famous chili.